Friday, July 22, 2016

At The End Of The Day...A Very Cool Thing I Never Knew About Apollo 11.


During my tenth summer I spent a whole lot of time at my grandmother's house that was perched over Swan Lake on the outskirts of Victoria.

And while there I was often glued to the TeeVee watching Wally Schirra and Mr. Cronkite show us pictures and tell us stories about the moonshot.

When I was instead at home that summer I mostly hid out in my bedroom closet, which had been converted into the inside of lunar excursion module, with levers and buttons and Apollo 11 mission checklists and everything.

All of which were homemade except for the spiral bound book of checklists filled of 'flip-that-switch' and 'hit-that-button' commands that seemed to go on and on forever.

Who knew that those checklists and, especially, the computer programs that drove them, were the work of a team of MIT software engineers led by a young woman named Margaret Hamilton, pictured above with the a big pile of the original script.

It turns out that Ms. Hamilton was actually a pioneer in a field filled with women that the rest of engineering field at first refused to recognize:

..."I began to use the term 'software engineering' to distinguish it from hardware and other kinds of engineering," Hamilton told Verne's Jaime Rubio Hancock in an interview. "When I first started using this phrase, it was considered to be quite amusing. It was an ongoing joke for a long time. They liked to kid me about my radical ideas. Software eventually and necessarily gained the same respect as any other discipline."...

Imagine that!

I also remember one conversation involving ol' Spam-In-A-Can Wally in which he described all the crazy things that would be different by the time the millenium flipped over in the year 2000...The details are hazy but I distinctly recall being flummoxed not by Jetsons-like flying cars but instead by the realization that I would be an ancient 41 years old by that time....I mean, to think of being that ancient at the age of ten was truly inconceivable...Now?...Well, early forties seems like a young man's game to me now...Selah.



Scotty on Denman said...

I remember the Moon landing. My Dad bought a portable TV for the occasion so we could watch it while eating dinner around the kitchen table---our old PYE TV being more the size of a chesterfield and too big to fit in the kitchen. And I recall a blanket exemption from normal bedtime hours during the entire project. Both my parents being MoCo employees (I even got on the payroll as a child stand-in---I sat in an airliner seat behind "Wojek" and made $30---which was fairly big money back then), they spent a lot of time examining the production values. Every once in a while I'd go out to look at the Moon with binoculars---not because I thought I could see the Lunar Lander crew, but because my school-chum said you could see the mirror image of Australia reflected from the illuminated surface.

My bedroom closet, however, was a recording studio---best sound quality achievable on the portable cassette-recorder. Still a great place---closets in general, I mean---to record. With clothes hanging to damp the sound, I mean.

Hugh said...

In the news:

The Saskatchewan city of North Battleford shut down its water intake plant Friday because of a major pipeline oil spill.

North Van's Grumps said...

Off Topic but

sd said...

I remember watching the landing in black and white on Ashby Ave and then walking up to Kips tavern to celebrate. I was underage but they never ID ed me.

Lulymay said...

I used to read the Vancouver Sun back in the days when they actually reported the news and even dug into background info. I still have a copy of the edition where they printed "The Moon!" on the front page instead of the normal Vancouver Sun. It's travelled with me on 4 moves since then and still intact. One of those things I'll never forget, especially Neil Armstrong's words. By the way, RK, my son was born one year before you, so I don't see you as being old at all!!

RossK said...



With the future Dean Wormer?

You never cease to amaze!

(and thanks or the closet studio tip, too)


Thanks Hugh and NVG for the links...Looks like the river spill is becoming a real problem



Kips on Durant?

Post-Doc lunchtime hangout for me and the crazy Frenchman.


That is so great Lulymay.

I have a lot of old yellow newsprint squirreled away with memorable stuff on it myself.

And you're right. That age thing is all relative. But I'm telling you...I really can remember thinking, at the age of 10 (during the age of socialist/democratic/people-built moonshot wonder), that to be 40 really would be unimaginably ancient.


sd said...

Yup on Durant.

RossK said...


World just keeps on getting smaller!